The Band (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Wednesday 11 July 2018

The Band (UK Tour) 
London Palladium 
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th July 2018 by Fiona Wickerson

The story opens with the main protagonist proclaiming how she grew up with ‘The Band’ and judging by the enthusiastic cheers from the audience it seemed pretty clear that many of them did too! The opening few scenes are full of fun and pace, as we see the bubbling enthusiasm of a group of five best friends, obsessed with seeing The Band for the first time. The dialogue was witty and the actors charmingly recreated the energetic enthusiasm found only in 16 year-old teenagers. 

‘The Band’ themselves appear regularly, in true musical fashion, to perform all of Take That’s greatest hits. Wearing the classic outfits and performing the deliberatively overly-choreographed dance routines, they really captured the spirit of Take That in their heyday. 

In sharp contrast to the sweet enthusiasm of the first few scenes, tragedy strikes, and the friendship group breaks apart. The Band’s acoustic, haunting singing worked beautifully and the mournful scenes of transition were handled with tenderness and emotion. 

Fast forward twenty-five years and the once-girls have all settled into very different lives, in very different places. The older Rachel, (played by Rachel Lumberg) performs with wonderful realism, portraying the balance of a woman who has had a happy life, but has never been able to quite let go of the sadness that haunted her teenage years. As the friends come back together for the first time in twenty-five years, the show really starts to come into its own. Every member of the audience could find something in common with the forgotten dreams of youth and the paths you never thought you would walk down. 

Queue some very humorous scenes involving a water fountain and the audience were completely charmed by the four women. It seems a little ironic that in a musical called The Band, from which a TV series has sought out the five winning members, the five boys were actually in the background for the majority of the story. The leading ladies absolutely stole the show, quite rightly, with their brilliant comic timing, sincere emotion and charismatic stage presence. In fact, it really worked for the performance that the boys and the main characters never directly interacted with each other. ‘The Band’ were always a dream for the girls-now-women, and though very important to their lives, it was the friendships underneath that the women realise they should never have lost. 

With only 16 performers in the entire show, the cast did an excellent job of creating the on-stage energy normally only found in much larger cast productions. The quick costume changes and creative use of props made the stage feel full of life. The show was a sell-out and I have rarely seen an audience so engaged and invested in a show. The rip-roaring finale scene had the audience on their feet and the night ended on a real high – success!

The Band runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 14th July before continuing it's tour.